Into Thin Air Again

17 September 2013 in Hiking, Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling, Yosemite National Park

Yesterday was a bust, a waste, another day of useless rest that has a tendency to send me into an overreactive panic, but a cold one—or four—tends to alleviate the symptoms temporarily. The problem is I count my blessings daily, like rosary beads and when I feel too sedentary, static, or complacent I can spiral into a black hole consisting of the statistical fragility of our mortality. It is a curse and a blessing that has got me this far, but wears on my very being whenever I try settle down or take a little rest.

There’s a fine line to be walked and most tread on the side of ignorance when it comes to recognizing their impermanence. While the alternative side of the spectrum can be an overly reckless lifestyle that invites death, a life of safe and ignorant comfort is often merely a waste. We can’t live life as if we only have one day to live—because we may have more—but we also can’t live life promising ourselves many tomorrows in which to tend to the things of our dreams and our passions. There’s a middle ground, but it’s hard to find and takes tenacity and effort to pursue.

FootbridgeSo with eager hearts we struck out on our requisite adventure today. Another backpacking trip up into the clouds. It is a therapy capable of curing just about all that ails you. Within an hour of departing the organized chaos of society my fears and anxieties about life and my troubles and concerns about work faded away into the thin air of the High Sierra.

The morning was crisp and refreshing and the sun was warm and bright. The climb was gradual and the scenery stunning. There was nothing more to ask for. Nothing more was required beyond the simplistic beauty surrounding us. We had all we would need upon our backs and there would be nothing to find or pursue outside of a nice spot to pitch our tent. The only anxiety that rattled through my nerves now was that of anticipating what small slice of heaven awaited us over each horizon and around every curve.

Off to VogelsangThe initial path led through forests of pine and across picturesque rivers, clear as crystal and lined with granite and sand. Then we slowly gained elevation while hiking through a long and open meadow, passing small pools that collected along the creek we were following. As we came to the end of this meadow the trail leveled and jagged and barren peaks grew up from the skyline.

Vogelsang High Sierra CampBefore we knew it—well before we wished to set up camp—we were at our destination – Vogelsang. Here there was the minor atrocity of a High Sierra Camp. Run by our concessionaire, these “camps” are semipermanent facilities consisting of tent cabins, restrooms and a small stable to pen the herds of mules they use to carry supplies up to this lodging offered for the well to do hiker. At $145/night they are anything but reasonably priced and while I can somewhat see the use for those too old or incapable of hauling a full pack up to these areas they are an eyesore and a burden on the resources. Most we have passed are situated close to a lake and use the water from said lake for their facilities. This often prohibits the rest of us from swimming in these lakes. They also regularly require teams of mules to haul firewood, food and beverages up—supplies that the rest of us are carrying upon our own backs or seek out on our own. And finally they simply occupy beautiful places that would otherwise be ideal for normal backpackers or sightseeing.

Vogelsang High Sierra CampWe didn’t spend much time here and quickly continued up towards Vogelsang Pass. Along the way we partially circled an icy alpine lake and as we climbed we were afforded magnificent views of the mountains to the north. As we crested the pass a whole new array of scenery was revealed. From left to right was – a frigid blue lake surrounded by peaks naked outside of a few patches of snow, then another lake partly surrounded by trees and partly bordered by more bare pinnacles, a small waterfall cut through down to a river running the length of the valley and off in the distance was a range of spires so arresting that we would spend the next two hours just staring at them.

When the sun was overtaken by clouds and the wind was too cold to stand we wandered back down, off of the pass, in search of a campsite. We settled on a spot not far from the pass, nestled amongst a cluster of trees, with a view of the mountains to our north. After setting up the tent we went and explored the nearby lake and a small set of waterfalls that cascaded into the lake. We watched small trout attempting to ladder the waterfall, but it was far too tall for their jumps. Then we headed back to our camp and cooked dinner – rice and soy curls along with a ramen. Life was good. Life was simple. And after a good hike and the good life we were tired and in our tent before the sun even set.

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